How Long to Wait Before Turning on an Aquarium Filter if Using Sand?

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Sand is excellent for your aquarium, because it looks great, assists plants in rooting and provides tropical fish with a familiar home. Unfortunately, sand can clog a filter. It’s common for filters to become clogged after sand is newly added to the aquarium. Most often, this is due to the filter being turned on too quickly after sand is added.

Type of Sands

  • Before you can turn on your filter, sand will need to completely settle. Some types of sands settle quicker than others. Silica sand is often referred to as pool filter sand. It’s known to settle to the bottom quickly and stay put. Typically, aquarium sand is just colored silica sand that costs more. It’s inadvisable to use marine, beach or play sand, because these sands don’t settle quickly and contain substrate that may pollute your aquarium.

Add Water Carefully

  • Only add sand to empty aquariums. Once you’ve poured in the sand, smooth it out, so it’s nearly level. Then you’re ready to add the water. A simple trick is to place a large plate on the surface of the sand, as this will help break the water and keep it from disturbing the sand during pouring. Pour water slowly. Suspended sand particles will float up into the water, but pouring water carefully can help ensure that less sand is kicked up.

Use a Water Conditioner

  • Sands can contain substrate that disrupts the balance of your aquarium. It’s important that you use a water conditioner before turning on your filter. The water conditioner may cause more sand to float into the water, but it’s necessary to remove any chlorine that may exist in the water. Once you’ve added the conditioner, replace your aquarium’s decorations and add your aquarium’s equipment to the top of the tank.

Turning on Your Filter

  • Do not turn on your filter until sand has completely settled, because this will damage your filter. In general, it should only take about 30 minutes for sand to settle. It could take a great deal longer if your tank is quite large and there was a large amount of sand floating in the water. Once you’re certain all sand particles have settled, you can turn on your filter.

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